It’s finally here. The next chapter in the former Boy Wonder’s life is upon us. After reading this issue and mulling over it for a while, I am fully vested in this title. It has its questionable moments, but it’s about like judging a movie based on the first ten minutes: you can’t fully appreciate all that is going on. Having said that, this is a good first issue and I can’t wait to see more.

Writer Time Seeley and co-plotter Tom King begin this issue with those preview pages we saw a few weeks back. It firmly roots our hero in Batman mythology and focuses our eyes, much like Dick’s, forward to the future. Agent 37, as he’s called, is approaching a train on foot. I’m instantly reminded of the opening to Skyfall with James Bond also fighting atop a train. Perhaps it’s the spy themed story going on here that brings it to mind, but I couldn’t help but hear the Bond theme music while reading Grayson #1.

Dick and fellow Spyral agent Helena Bertinelli are attempting to intercept a target aboard a train in Russia. We see Dick’s charm and wit (much like another spy) on display throughout this issue. He really embodies this type of character. He has always been lighthearted and quick and that’s exactly what he does here. The parallels between Dick and James Bond are numerous.

As Dick drops the blonde wig for his black hair (yay!) he removes his target from the train in traditional Nightwing fashion. Artist Mikel Janin does a good job making us feel things are moving in this issue. Dick’s flips are all captured in a manner most of us are used to. Colorist Jeromy Cox gets a solid thumbs up for this issue as well. As Dick leads the target into a nuclear silo, I was pleasantly surprised by Cox’s choice in colors. Inside the silo, a few things take place.

Spoiler
Midnighter has also been following the target, Ninel. Dick can use the Hypnos Implant used by other Spyral agents. He uses it in a creative way that saves himself and prevents Ninel from blowing up. Ninel has a “meta bioweapon” implanted and it is Spyral’s intention to remove. It’s interesting that in this first issue Dick is given a Batman-like adversary with which to fight and gain approval. I particularly loved the phrase, “You fight like jazz.” Good stuff.

After the completed mission, Dick, Helena, and Mister Minos (the head of Spyral) discuss the mission and Dick heads to a dorm room to settle for the night. It’s a short page but I think this is very important for appreciating this comic as a Batman fan. Aside from the first and last pages, we are given almost no other attachment to Dick’s past life. Here we see, in classic form, a connection between Bruce (Mr. Malone) and Dick (Birdwatcher) as Dick leaves a message for Bruce via alarm clock manipulation. There is just one panel and maybe eighteen words, but this tiny reminder keeps this thought in mind: Dick Grayson was asked by Bruce Wayne to complete a mission, and that’s why Dick is here. For me, that seemingly insignificant panel is paramount. Because this isn’t just a James Bond thriller with “Grayson” slapped on it; it’s a deeply important mission with its core steeped in the Batman universe. Dick Grayson is still Dick Grayson. As much change has happened, and will, Bruce and him have a past and that means something.

Spoiler
It’s revealed that Spyral has an 89% good feeling that Bruce Wayne is Batman (thanks in part to Leslie Thompkins), and a 90% chance that Victor Stone is Cyborg. Now, I’m not sure what they want to do with this. As Mister Minos says, “With Godhood must come transparency.” I can only think that means the revelation of DC’s masked superheroes to the public. That, in my mind, means more superheroes being unmasked and big changes for everyone across the board. Unless Dick can stop it, that is. Otherwise we’ll have to wait for the next big event to have the slate wiped clean. You know, like a Clean Slate.

We are given access to one page of Helena and Dick speaking personally to one another. There is some tension between the two, but what is more interesting is the mentor/sidekick relationship. Earlier, Dick makes the remark that it stinks working alone because no one is there to see when he does something noteworthy. However, Dick is working with Helena, who is in a lead role as it seems Dick is still learning the ropes. I hope this morphs into Dick assuming leadership and proving himself. That will help grow the character in both Spyral and in the minds of the reader.

Recommended if…

  • You like James Bond.
  • You were reading Nightwing and want to know what’s next for Dick Grayson.
  • You liked Grant Morrison’s Batman Incorporated run

Overall:

A good start to a new series, it has all the makings of a good espionage thriller. Secret agency versus secret heroes versus greater evil: it’s pretty good stuff. If you are like me, you didn’t buy this comic because you thought how cool it would be to read a spy comic: you bought it because you love Dick Grayson. It’s still good thriller. I can’t wait to see what happens between all the different factions in this story, and I can’t wait to see it even more because of Dick Grayson.

SCORE: 8/10